Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Falling Short

My kids chatter in the back of the car.  Their miniature violins are tucked in the space between the seats.  It's a sunny June day in Evanston.  As my mind wanders I catch a flurry of students in black caps and gowns.  A sash of purple flutters in the light spring breeze adding flair to the traditional attire.  Northwestern prepares to graduate yet another class of college students.

The visual cue sets off a flurry of memories.  In high school we wore tuxedos with black pants and white jackets.  My college graduation took place in the famed University of Michigan football stadium.  And I myself donned the purple sash as I sauntered down the hallowed halls the day I dared to call myself "doctor" for the first time.

I often wonder why we look so forward to these events.  We rejoice in the act of finishing, in reaching the end.  But when I look back at my life, it was the beginning of the journey that always brought the most joy.  During those early stages my goals seemed so far away and impossible.  I filled my days reaching and my nights dreaming of what I could be.

I pictured myself a physician a million times before I became one.  I replayed a thousand scenarios in my head, each one ending with me rushing into the room to save the day.  When I graduated medical school, I still had to climb through residency.  A decade later, I have surpassed the mythic peak and look down for the first time instead of up.

My children struggle to carry their violins as they climb the steps to their class.  They are so young.  The possibilities in front of them are endless. 

I wish I could explain how important dreams are.   I would tell them to strive far ahead of their abilities.

We should all die with wishes unfulfilled.

If we are lucky we almost get there,

but always fall just a tad short.

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